Houston Medicaid Fraud Strike Force nets two guilty pleas over "arthritis kits"

by Ben Vernia | March 24th, 2010

The Department of Justice announced on March 23 that its Houston HEAT strike force obtained the convictions of two Texas women to defrauding Medicare using claims for medical devices. According to the Department’s press release:

[Rolandae] Mitchell-Straughter, 43, and [Ana] Quinteros, 28, each pleaded guilty before U.S. District Court Judge Gray Miller in the Southern District of Texas to conspiracy to commit health care fraud. Mitchell-Straughter was an administrative assistant at two Houston-area durable medical equipment (DME) companies: Family Healthcare Services and its successor company, Family DME Inc . Quinteros was a patient recruiter.

In connection with the pleas, the defendants admitted that Family DME billed Medicare for expensive, rigid orthotics and braces that were packaged together and referred to as an “arthritis kit,” at a cost of approximately $4,000 per kit, when in fact, the equipment supplied was not medically necessary and in many cases not even supplied. In total, Family DME submitted more than $1,505,000 in claims to Medicare.

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